Golf

With an average of 315 days of sunshine a year and year-round access, Las Vegas's top sport is golf. The peak season is any nonsummer month; only mad dogs and Englishmen are out in the noonday summer sun. However, most of the courses in Las Vegas offer reduced greens fees during the summer months, sometimes as much as 50%–70% lower than peak-season fees. If you want to play on a weekend, call before you get into town, as the 8–11 am time slots fill up quickly. Starting times for same-day play are possible (especially during the week), but if you're picky about when and where you play, plan ahead. Some of the big Strip resorts have a dedicated golf concierge who can advise you on a course that fits your tastes. In some cases, these people can get you access to private courses.

Bali Hai Golf Club. This island-theme course is dotted with palm trees, volcanic outcroppings, and small lagoons. The entrance is a mere 10-minute walk from Mandalay Bay. The clubhouse includes a pro shop and restaurant. Online specials are available for as low as $99. 5160 Las Vegas Blvd. S, South Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89119. 888/427–6678; 702/450–8191; www.balihaigolfclub.com. From $199 for nonresidents.

Bear's Best Las Vegas. Jack Nicklaus created this course by placing replicas of his 18 favorite holes (from the 270 courses he's designed worldwide) into a single course. There's also a short course that measures just over 3,000 yards. If all of these on-greens options don't make you reach for your ugly pants, then consider that the clubhouse has enough Nicklaus memorabilia to fill a small museum. A huge dining area doubles as a banquet hall, and an even bigger pavilion provides beautiful views of the mountains and the Strip. Midday tee times are available online for as low as $55. 11111 W. Flamingo Rd., Summerlin South, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89135. 702/804–8500; www.clubcorp.com/Clubs/Bear-s-Best-Las-Vegas. From $149 for nonresidents.

Las Vegas National Golf Club. Built in 1961, this historic course has played host to Vegas royalty and golf's superstars over the years. Tiger shot 70 on the final round of his first PGA Tour win during the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, and Mickey Wright won two of her four LPGA Championships here. You'll find five difficult par-3s and a killer 550-yard par-5 at the 18th. "Las Vegas National," as it's known, is one of the only courses in the Valley to rent players the Golfboard, a mash-up between a golf cart and a long skateboard. The course is about a $15 cab ride from most properties on the Strip. 1911 E. Desert Inn Rd., East Side, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89169. 702/734–1796; 866/695–1961; www.lasvegasnational.com. $39–$109 for nonresidents.

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. You can play three Pete Dye–designed courses here: Wolf, Snow Mountain, and Sun Mountain. Snow Mountain fits most skill levels and has been ranked by Golf Digest as Las Vegas's best public-access course. Sun Mountain is a player-friendly course, but its difficult par-4s make it marginally more challenging than Snow. Six of those holes measure longer than 400 yards, but the best is the fourth hole, which is 206 yards over water. Wolf, with its island hole at No. 15, is the toughest of the three and arguably the most difficult in the area. If you want to play last-minute, all courses offer great twilight 9-hole rates. 10325 Nu-Wav Kaiv Blvd., Summerlin South, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89124. 702/658–1400; 800/711–2833; www.lvpaiutegolf.com. $119–$189 for nonresidents.

Rhodes Ranch Golf Club. One of the better courses in the Las Vegas Valley, the Rhodes Ranch course was designed by renowned architect Ted Robinson to provide enough challenges for any skill level—numerous water hazards, difficult bunkers, and less-than-even fairways. Twilight rates can drop to $55 or lower. 20 Rhodes Ranch Pkwy., West Side, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89148. 702/740–4114; 888/311–8337; www.rhodesranchgolf.com. $79–$99 for nonresidents.

Royal Links Golf Club. Similar in concept to Bear's Best, Royal Links is a greatest-hits course, replicating popular holes from 11 courses in the British Open rotation. You can play the Road Hole from the famed St. Andrews, and the Postage Stamp from Royal Troon. If you're feeling lonely, sign up to golf with one of the course's "Par Mates," a group of buxom beauties who are masters with the clubs. Also on-site is Stymie's Pub. Online specials can be as low as $95. 5995 E. Vegas Valley Dr., East Side, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89142. 702/450–8181; 888/427–6678; www.royallinksgolfclub.com. $125–$219 for nonresidents.

SouthShore Golf Club. Technically, the Jack Nicklaus–designed Signature Course at this Lake Las Vegas golf club is members-only, but a relatively new change in the bylaws allows guests at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa and the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa to play with limited access. Hard-core enthusiasts say the layout is challenging; there are nearly 90 bunkers in all. Still, with views of Lake Las Vegas and the surrounding River Mountains, the experience is second to few others in the Las Vegas Valley. 100 Strada di Circolo, Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, Nevada, 89011. 702/856–8402; www.pacificlinks.com/southshore. $150–$175 for nonmembers.

TPC Las Vegas. The PGA manages this championship layout next to the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa. The course features a number of elevation changes, steep ravines, and a lake. It's also one of the venues for the Las Vegas Invitational, a stop on the PGA Tour. 9851 Canyon Run Dr., Summerlin South, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89144. 702/256–2500; 888/321–5725; www.tpc.com/tpc-las-vegas. $150–$250 for nonresidents.

Wynn Golf Club. Tom Fazio's lavish urban golf course is built on the site of the old Desert Inn Golf Course, but bears little resemblance to the original. You're up against significant elevation changes, and water hazards are in the mix on 11 of the 18 holes. The 37-foot Wynn waterfall on the 18th hole is a pleasant backdrop for the end of the course. All players receive concierge-style service in the clubhouse, complimentary clubs from Callaway, complimentary shoes from FootJoy, and a dedicated professional caddie. Open to hotel guests only. Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S, North Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109. 702/770–7000; 888/320–7123; www.wynnlasvegas.com. $500.

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